For youth in Idaho, courts assess fines and fees with little regard for how their lives may be affected. Cost of care fees, also known as parent reimbursement fees, can significantly burden youth and their families, particularly families with modest incomes and families of color. With data obtained from the Idaho Department of Juvenile Corrections (IDJC), the authors conducted a 5 year (2016-2020) analysis of cost of care fee data, uncovering burdensome charges and racial inequity.
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- Only a small share of youth were committed to the custody of the IDJC, the other 95 percent are handled at the county level through community supervision or county detention centers.
- Between FY2016 and FY2020, judges assessed approximately $7.1 million in cost of care fees; in that period over $1.2 million was collected from families.
- Black youth made up 3.6 percent of collections and only 1 percent of the state’s youth population.
- The IDJC currently has a $2.2 million outstanding balance across 907 cases.
- Black youth account for 4.8 percent of total debt and American Indian youth account for 3.3 percent; Pacific Islander youth have the highest average outstanding debt per case at $3,731.
- Collection of cost of care fees costs IDJC an average of $94,239 per year in administrative expenses; in 2020, 42 percent of cost of care fee revenue went to collection costs.
- Families unable to pay cost of care fees have their accounts transferred to a collection agency which incurs a 33 percent collection fee.
- Between 2016 and 2020, the average amount collected per year in cost of care fees was $246,849, compared with an average annual IDJC budget of about $48.4 million.
Author(s): Kendra Knighten
Research institution(s): Idaho Center for Fiscal Policy